For centuries the only developed corridor through the Terai, the gentler southern section of the Tribhuwan Rajpath served, before air travel, as every foreigner’s introduction to Nepal. A narrow-gauge railway used to run from Raxaul, the last Indian station, as far as Amlekhganj, from where dignitaries were transported by elephant over the first band of hills to Hetauda, then carried the rest of the way to Kathmandu by donkey or sedan chair. Those few who made the journey during Nepal’s pre-1951 isolation did so only by invitation of the prime minister or king. The construction of the Rajpath in the 1950s eliminated the need for elephants and sedan chairs, but the railway wasn’t decommissioned until the 1970s.
If you’re arriving from India, the Rajpath makes an exhilarating introduction to Nepal, particularly if coupled with an overnight stay in Daman, from where there’s a superb Himalayan panorama. The dramatic northern section of the Tribhuwan Rajpath, including Daman, is covered here.Read More
BIRGUNJ may not be one of the best places in Asia to spend time, but it certainly beats Raxaul, its evil twin across the border. The town has exploded in the last decade on the back of cross-border trade with India; its population has almost tripled since 2001. Unless you have business interests, there’s no reason to come here except to cross the border to or from Varanasi or Kolkata. Even then, you’re more likely to use Sonauli because of its better connections within Nepal. You could probably kill a few hours in the market area around Maisthan, a mother-goddess temple just off the main drag.
The border is 2km south of birgunj, and Raxaul, the Indian border town, sprawls for another 2km south of it. Horrendous traffic jams are a regular occurrence – if you’re driving it can take hours physically to get through, leaving aside the paperwork.